Miss America, Paula Deen and Pathetic White Racism
Few things unite white America more than beauty pageants and butter. Therefore, last night, when white America watched with rapt attention as ABC News highlighted the redemption of Paula Deen on the evening news, their joy turned to bitterness as they later tuned in to see their country hijacked, yet again, by non-white subversives.
More specifically, when Miss New York, Nina Davuluri, ran away with the Miss America crown and beat out Sarah Palin fan club favorite Miss Kansas—a god-fearing, gun-toting and very white Theresa Vail—Twitter exploded with slackjaw commentary over race relations in the nation.
Jokes about 7-Eleven, nonsensical conflations of Indians with Arabs, and a chorus of “This is America” blew up the Miss America hashtag. This is white America, indeed.
Since the emergence of hip-hop and rap genres in the nation, white Americans have made the false declaration that saying “N*gger” outright to a black person is the same thing as a rap artist uttering the word as a form of social commentary. Likewise, to these folks, somehow, Ice-T’s brilliant social commentary on police brutality becomes “White people are dogs.”
White America’s illiterate cousins just don’t get it and probably never will.
If white America wants to assert, for instance, that real America is dominated by the white hegemonic culture and make statements like “This is America, not India,” then it logically concedes that white people dominate institutions of power and culture in the nation.
Taking this further, if white people dominate these power structures and represent mainstream culture, then, naturally, they dominate over minority groups.
Consequently, a white person, particularly like Paula Deen, calling a black person a “N*gger” is inherently different than a black rap artist using the same word or even a similar word for white people, a word which does not even exist. Whether this duality of standard is fair is irrelevant; it certainly exists. Fairness, as a reminder, is a concept for the elementary schoolyard and has little utility in adulthood.
Upon the election of President Barack Obama in 2008, “This is America” became a truly meaningless phrase; the actual message of “This is America” depends entirely on the background, intent and perspective of the speaker.
Though, if the “This is America!” brigade wants to enjoy its pathetic, strained victimization by using Paula Deen and Miss Kansas as its St. Sebastians, martyred with the slings and arrows of a world out to get American white people, then they are conceding that racial minorities dominate or threaten structural and cultural systems.
In fact, white people suffer, in these folks’ minds, through Miss Vail’s loss to Miss Davuluri much like, I presume, George Wallace did after his attempted assassination and subsequent loss of movement. Even so, if racial minorities now dominate or threaten structural and cultural systems in this country, then “This is America” makes no sense whatsoever unless uttered as an affirmative, not negative, observation.
These situations make no logical sense unless segments of white America are simply pissy over minorities getting closer to egalitarian peerage with whites; so, white racists are disguising their racist motives in either false equivocation nonsense like equating Paula Deen with Ice-T or illogical claims of victimization like demeaning Miss Davuluri in favor of their preferred candidate. In either case, this is the same single note on the same broken record.
Of course, Miss Vail has nothing to do with those who obsess over her. And, Miss Davuluri has nothing to do with those who might have supported her for no other reason than her race.
Both contestants, unlike Paula Deen, demonstrated a love of country and appreciation for dialogue and difference throughout the lead-up to and during the Miss America Pageant.
Going further, Miss Davuluri is the first Indian American winner of the pageant and, to this gay man, looked fabulous last night. Yet, Miss Vail, while admittedly beautiful herself, represented a tiresome archetype repeatedly rejected in American elections and pop culture trends since 2008.
The fact that some angry white people have a problem with minorities should surprise no one; the fact, though, that we as a society seriously entertain their racist BS should give us serious reflection.
Josh Kruger is a freelance writer and editor based here in Philadelphia. His work focuses on HIV/AIDS, social stigma, and civil liberties. Read more at joshkruger.com.
[Miss America photo: Mel Evans/AP Photo]